A heads up health alert for women in Saudi Arabia demands immediate attention.
Vitamin D deficiency among women in the Kingdom has reached endemic levels, while most women are not even aware of the existence of this problem in the first place, nor do they understand its full implications.
Several common ailments and health complaints can actually be allayed by correcting a silent, underlying vitamin D deficiency.
A study reported in the International Journal of Health Sciences revealed that the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among an otherwise healthy Saudi population in Al-Qassim was 67.8 percent.
Another study conducted at King Fahd Hospital in Dammam showed an alarmingly high rate of vitamin D deficiency among both men and women.
Reem Al-Athem has been working as the head of a laboratory in Jeddah for over 15 years.
She said: “In more than 70 percent of our blood work samples for vitamin and mineral levels in female patients' results show severely low levels of vitamin D."
Vitamin D is mostly recognized for its function in the absorption of calcium, increasing bone density, helping to maintain strong bones, and thus protecting against osteoporosis.
An adequate level of vitamin D is also needed for healthy teeth. In one study, a 47 percent reduced risk of cavities was found with vitamin D supplementation.
A low level of vitamin D not only puts you at risk for weaker bones, but it may also be affecting your mood.
Symptoms of chronic vitamin D deficiency include irritability, nervousness, depression, and lethargy.
Evidence shows a link between vitamin D deficiency and persistent daytime sleepiness, headaches, and joint pain.
In recent years, vitamin D has been shown to play an important role in immune and metabolic functions.The link will take you to an article (I think it's the one referred to) stating: "the prevalence of hypovitaminosis D among young healthy Saudi females is 100%. This finding should be considered a public health problem."
I don't consider it a panacea, but if vitamin D is a key factor in maintaining strong immune systems, it should be a factor in warding off MERS. Since we can't expect Saudi women to throw away their burqas and wear shorts and T-shirts while they drive around Riyadh in convertibles with the tops down, some kind of diet supplement seems called for.